PRODUCTION

Fresh Herbs for Summer Drinks


June 13, 2022

Growing an herb garden is a fun and rewarding way to dip your toes into the world of fresh produce. Taking little space and simple care, an herb garden can supply you with a summer’s worth of seasoning. And with some planning and drying, can carry you through the cooler months with homegrown spices too. The ability for most herbs to take kindly to trimming and clipping is great and allows them to be grown almost anywhere there is enough warmth, sunlight a water. A windowsill will do. A planter pot on the deck, porch or patio. A pallet-wood herb garden on the balcony. Herbs are one of the best ways to add fresh, amazing flavor to any dish.

Cold pear white tea with thyme, cinnamon and honey on the olive desk and wooden background

Growing

Most herb gardens need to be grown in full sun. This is especially true for the woody herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, and marjoram. They come from hot, dry climates and thrive in those bright warm rays. Chives and cilantro also like full sun. Lavender will give you loads of flowers if you tuck it in somewhere sunny too. Some plants, like basil, can sunburn if you’re not careful. But the Pacific Northwest isn’t known for our scorchers. And if we have a few hot days, pop up an umbrella for a little shade or make your own with sun screen fabric.

Sun Screen Fabric, Saddle Tan, 6-Ft. x 20-Ft.

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Growing Herbs
Of course, you can always grow your herbs right inside your kitchen. Pick a sunny spot near the window where you can not only enjoy cooking with them – you can enjoy their beauty and fragrance. There are lots of designer options for potting indoors. Everything from your basic window box planter to traditional terra cotta to vibrantly colored glazed pottery.

Americana Windowbox Planter & Saucer, Plastic, Olive Green, 24-In.

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Deroma D03 M8300PZ Standard Pot, 8.3 in Dia, Terra Cotta Clay

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Best Conditions

All herbs benefit from rich, soil with good drainage. While they all need regular watering, none of them like their feet wet. Leaving herbs in pots without drain holes or thick organic compost will hamper growth and most often turn leaves yellow. If you’re concerned about your soil, starting with a well-balanced mix like G&B Raised Bed and Garden Mix will give your plants the richness they deserve and the happy roots to go with it.

Gardner & Bloome Organics Raised Bed & Potting Mix 3 cu. ft.

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And if you have good drainage but are concerned about nutrients, it’s always a good idea to mix in a handful of Down to Earth All Purpose Fertilizer when you plant your herbs.

Down to Earth Premium All Purpose Fertilizer 5lb

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Best Conditions Purple Sage

Harvesting

Harvesting your herb garden should above all be fun! There’s nothing quite like walking out to the garden for some rosemary or thyme. But not only is it fun for you, it’s good for the plants. Herbs like to be harvested. It stimulates fresh growth and gives you months of produce. Using a sharp pair of lightweight pruners like Fiskars Cuts + More garden scissors, you can choose to clip herbs carefully, one stem at a time, or give them a regular haircut, trimming the whole thing at once.

Fiskars Cuts+More Garden Scissors, 5-in-1

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Just make sure that you don’t take more than a third of the plant when you do. And really – having a fresh herb garden means you can clip only what you need for the recipe of the day.

Recipes

And speaking of recipes. Herbs have been a longtime favorite in sweet and savory cooking – from roasts to scones – they have a place in the cook or baker’s kitchen. But what about drinks? People have discovered wonderful ways to incorporate the fresh, spicy flavors of their favorite herbs into creative cocktails. Of course, there is always the Mint Julep. But what about the Jalapeno Cilantro Margarita? Check out some of the recipes we found that take fresh garden herbs to a whole new level.

LAVENDER SANGRIA

A summer drink with aromatic lavender and fresh fruit.

Ingredients

  • 1 – 750mL bottle pinot grigio
  • ½ cup brandy
  • ½ cup grand marnier
  • 2 cups club soda
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 – 10 oz. bag frozen peaches
  • ½ cup lavender syrup

Making Your Own Lavender Simple Syrup

    • ½ cup sugar
    • ½ cup water
    • 2 tsp dried lavender
    • 2 springs fresh lavender

Simple Syrup Instructions

    1. Place sugar, water, and lavender in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
    2. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring to a simmer.
    3. Cook for one minute. Set aside and let cool completely.
    4. Strain mixture to remove lavender.
    5. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

Cocktail Instructions

  1. Add the strawberries and frozen peaches to the bottom of a pitcher.
  2. Pour liquid ingredients over the top and stir.
  3. Chill for 2-4 hours before serving.

Jalapeno Cilantro Margarita

JALAPENO CILANTRO MARGARITA

A picante twist on a classic drink.

Ingredients

  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 oz tequila
  • 4 small slices of jalapeño
  • ½ oz. cilantro simple syrup

Making Your Own Cilantro Simple Syrup

    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup fresh cilantro

Simple Syrup Instructions

    1. Place sugar, water, and cilantro in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
    2. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring to a simmer.
    3. Cook for one minute. Set aside and let cool completely.
    4. Strain mixture to remove lavender.
    5. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

Cocktail Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker full of ice, add all ingredients.
  2. Shake vigorously, strain, and serve in a lowball glass.
  3. Garnish with a slice of lime, a slice of jalapeno and a sprig of cilantro.

Mint Julep

MINT JULEP

An old-fashioned favorite.

Ingredients

  • 8 mint leaves
  • ¼ oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a Julep cup or rocks glass, lightly muddle the mint leaves in the simple syrup.
  2. Add the bourbon then pack the glass tightly with crushed ice.
  3. Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside.
  4. Top with more crushed ice to form an ice dome, and garnish with a mint sprig.

THYME & MEYER LEMON GIMLET

A sweet and spicy treat for a hot summer day.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz gin
  • 1.5 oz Meyer lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz thyme simple syrup

Making Your Own Thyme Simple Syrup

    • ½ cup water
    • ½ cup sugar
    • Handful thyme sprigs, chopped

Simple Syrup Instructions

    1. Place sugar, water, and lavender in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
    2. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring to a simmer.
    3. Cook for one minute. Set aside and let cool completely.
    4. Strain mixture to remove lavender.
    5. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

Cocktail Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker full of ice, add all ingredients.
  2. Shake vigorously, strain, and serve in two small chilled glasses.
  3. Garnish with a slice of Meyer lemon or zest.

MEDICINE MAN

Maple, paprika, and sage…oh my.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz white rum
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 sage leaves, divided

Cocktail Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker full of ice, add all ingredients.
  2. Shake vigorously, strain, and serve in two small chilled glasses.
  3. Garnish with sage leaf.

SHANDY MAKER

An unsung hero of the herb garden and an IPA. Yum.

Ingredients

  • 2-4 marjoram leaves
  • 1 ¾ oz grapefruit juice
  • ¼ oz lemon juice
  • ¼ oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz IPA, chilled

Cocktail Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, dry muddle the marjoram.
  2. In a cocktail shaker full of ice, add all ingredients except beer.
  3. Shake vigorously and strain into a pint glass over fresh ice.
  4. Top with beer, stirring briefly to combine.
  5. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

LEMON PARSLEY FIZZ

Parsley’s not just for garnish in this drink.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 oz lemonade
  • 2 oz vodka
  • Splash of club soda

Cocktail Instructions

  1. Place the parsley in a blender and add water. Blend on high to liquify.
  2. Pour liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Use spatula to press all liquid from the parsley pulp. Discard the pulp.
  3. Fill a pint glass with ice. Add lemonade and vodka.
  4. Add a splash of club soda and stir.
  5. Float one to two teaspoons of parsley juice on top.
  6. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a parsley sprig.

OTHER COCKTAILS TO TRY

  • Honey Oregano Boulevardier
  • Cucumber Dill Martini
  • Chive Blossom Martini
  • Basil Mojito
  • Rosemary Paloma
  • Tarragon Gin & Tonic

Herb Starts & Seeds Available Seasonally At Your Local Wilco Store
You’ll typically find fresh herbs for use in your favorite dishes and cocktails in your Farm Store in-season every year. Wilco carries a large selection of herbs and most often multiple varieties of the most popular ones like sage and parsley. This season look for several varieties of Sage, Mint, Lavender, Oregano, Parsley and Thyme. You can also find Sweet Marjoram, Cilantro, Dill and Chives.


We would love to see your garden harvest, use #mywilcolife on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tag Wilco Stores.


ROBYN ROGERS, THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG IS LOCATED ON THE KITSAP PENINSULA IN WASHINGTON AND HER ADVICE IS CONSISTENT WITH THE CLIMATE THERE.